So rather a lot of the Bretonnia range has disappeared from Games Workshop's website recently, a face I only discovered after writing a 2,000 points army listed composed mainly of discontinued models. I'm choosing to see this as a positive sign, the running down of stock that typically happens a few months before a new release.
There are, of course, counter rumours floating around that this is the prelude to GW dropping the army entirely or “folding it in” to another army (the Empire, apparently) as they folded Black Templars in Codex: Space Marines. I'd like to concede that there is precedent and it isn't an unreasonable assumption before explaining why I think it's wrong but I honestly don't think there is. Black Templars were folded into Space Marines because their own list was crushingly limited (and I say this as a man with a much loved Templar army of his own). They had one unique unit, one unique character class and a whole lot of restrictions: no Scout units, no Librarians, no Devastators, and so on. They were also, at the end of the day, Space Marines and so just shoving their two unique choices into the main codex did them no aesthetic or background harm.
Compare the Empire and Bretonnia: the argument goes that a Bretonnia army can be represented using Knightly Orders supported by Archers and Halberdiers (or Free Company in some tellings). To quote Frankie Howerd: “I've never heard cock so poppy!”
The two armies have quite distinct background, aesthetics and, most of all, game mechanics. The Empire relies on great coordination between the many different elements: the detachments system, officers with Hold The Line!, and a large selection of ranged options to soften up the enemy before the two armies collide. Bretonnian armies rely on the hammerblow of the lance formation: a spear of knights formed three wide hitting the enemy and attacking not only with the standard attacks from the front of the unit but from every knight and horse on the sides, as well. The Peasant units have appalling stat lines representing a bunch of malnourished, poorly trained bumpkins being handed halberds and pointed at the enemy their uncaring feudal lords, used either to mop up depleted enemy units in the knights' wake or to flank charge into ongoing combats when the knights get bogged down and lose their lance formation attacks and lance strength buffs.
Thus I am betting on a new release some time in the next six months. To this end I have invoked the power of Christmas money and an unexpected council tax rebate to splash out on the following:
1x Finecast King Louen Leoceour on Hippogryph
1x Finecast Damsel on foot
1x Finecast Damsel on horse
1x Bretonnian Battalion (being 8 Knights of the Realm/Knights Errant, 1 Pegasus Knight, 20 Men-At-Arms and 16 Peasant Bowmen with defensive stakes).
The Louen Leonceur I'll be converting into a Questing Lord using an old metal Questing Lord I found in a drawer whilst moving and at some point I'll get a second unit of Knights but this should be pretty much it until the release comes: a solid core of characters and Core units so I can spend good money later on cool new shit.
Now to drive myself insane designing and painting individual heraldries.